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POTONG PASIR TOWN CENTRE - Lift Upgrading Programme

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  • Qitai's Avatar
    2,587 posts since Jul '04
    • Another Parliment excerpt.
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      POTONG PASIR TOWN CENTRE
      (Lift Upgrading Programme)

      8. Mr Chiam See Tong asked the Minister for National Development whether, in the light of the recent National Day Rally speech where the Prime Minister said that Singapore must take good care of its senior citizens, his Ministry will now allow the Potong Pasir Town Council to make lifts stop at every floor in all the blocks of flats that are currently undergoing the town council's Lift Upgrading Programme.

      The Minister of State for National Development (Mr Cedric Foo Chee Keng) (for the Minister for National Development): Mr Speaker, Sir, all town councils, including the Potong Pasir Town Council, are free to carry out their own Lift Upgrading Programme which may include providing for lift access on every floor. What they cannot do is to finance such major upgrading works solely or substantially from town council funds. Let me explain.

      Town councils (TCs) are largely funded by service and conservancy charges (S&CC) collected from residents as well as grants from the Government. The Government has to ensure that TCs use these funds prudently for the benefit of the majority of their residents over the long term. This is why TCs are required by the Town Councils Act to lock away 30% to 35% of their funds into a sinking fund, to ensure that they have adequate funds in the long term to do major cyclical works like repainting, re-roofing, replacing lifts and replacing water-supply systems. The remaining 65% to 70% of the funds are used for routine operating expenditure, such as cleaning, repairs and utility charges.

      Lift upgrading works which will enable lifts to stop at every floor are major structural upgrading. They are very costly. Town councils' funds are neither intended nor adequate for this purpose. Therefore, under the Government's Lift Upgrading Programme, town councils fund only a small portion of the total cost and the bulk of the cost is borne by the Government.

      Mr Chiam See Tong (Potong Pasir): Sir, I have got two supplementary questions for the Minister of State. What are the reasons for HDB in not allowing lifts to stop at every floor at Lorong 8, Toa Payoh, of the Potong Pasir Constituency? And will HDB Lift Upgrading Programme be implemented at Potong Pasir estate?

      Mr Cedric Foo Chee Keng: Sir, as I said earlier, town councils are free to do major upgrading programme for the lifts, including providing for lifts to stop at every floor. However, the town councils cannot use town council's funds to substantially finance such upgrading works. If I may refer the Member to the Potong Pasir Town Council's accounts, just as an example. Potong Pasir has a balance of $8 million in its sinking fund. If he does the cyclical repairs for the 12 blocks that he is right now doing, it will cost him $4 million. So he would have $4 million left. But if he were to do upgrading in a manner which allows lifts to stop at every floor, that would cost another $12 million for this LUP, which means he will be short of $8 million. So the Potong Pasir Town Council really does not have sufficient balance in its sinking fund to do major lift upgrading works.

      Sir, the Member's second question is whether or not Potong Pasir Town Council will get the Government's Lift Upgrading Programme. To-date, the Government has done about 600 blocks of LUP and there are about 3,000 eligible blocks remaining. So we have completed roughly 17%. Lift upgrading is selected based on several criteria, ie, the block configuration, the needs of the residents, the geographical spread, and also the degree of support from the residents. We need to bear in mind that it is the whole range of Government policies and programmes that bring about budget surpluses that allow us to do such improvement programmes. Hence, all things being equal, residents who support and vote for the Government policies would be given higher priority in upgrading.

      Mr Chiam See Tong: With due respect to the Minister of State, I have been the Chairman of the Potong Pasir Town Council for 15 years now. And I think we know what funds can be used for lift upgrading and what funds cannot be used. I can assure the Minister of State that we do have sufficient funds in the sinking fund to carry out both our Lift Upgrading Programme at Lorong 8, Toa Payoh, and also the R&R works that we are going to do at Potong Pasir estate. Of course, we have to get permission from HDB to do our lift upgrading at Lorong 8, Toa Payoh. But the HDB specifically says, "Ok, you can go ahead and do lift upgrading.", but they do not allow us to make the lifts to stop at every floor. So I want to know what is the reason. We do not spend $12 million, as the Minister has said. The lift upgrading for 29 lifts only cost us just over $2 million. I do not know where he gets his figures from.

      Mr Cedric Foo Chee Keng: Sir, as I said earlier, the town councils are free to do lift upgrading, including providing for lift access to every floor. What it cannot do is to use the sinking fund for such major structural works which include lift stops at every floor. And this is quite plain. Sinking fund is provided for all sorts of cyclical works, not just lift upgrading works. It could be replacement of lifts, water systems, and so forth. So if a particular town council were to use its sinking fund purely to do major structural upgrading works, like allowing lifts to stop at every floor, then it would be an inappropriate use of the sinking fund. Just a back-of-the-envelope calculation, for a 4-room flat, the Member would know that we collect about $50 per month for S&CC. So multiply that by 12, it is about $600 a year. And if one-third of $600 is set aside for sinking fund, that is $200. To do a lift upgrading programme which allows a lift to stop at every floor would cost per benefiting unit something like $4,000 at the lowest, that is, for common corridor type of flats. You take $4,000 and divide by 200, it will take you 20 years. You will have to collect 20 years of sinking fund from the residents.

      Mr Chiam also has six segmented blocks and those cost a lot more, six times more or $24,000 to do lift upgrading works per benefiting unit. This means 20 x 6, or 120 years of collection of sinking fund from the residents before such works can be completed. So I think my numbers are clear. We have done our research. It will be very difficult and inappropriate for the town council to use its sinking fund for such purposes.

      Edited by Qitai 28 Oct `04, 5:57PM
    • PART II

      Mr Chiam See Tong: I think the Minister of State does not know what is happening at Lorong 8, Toa Payoh. When I said lift upgrading, actually what we are doing is replacing all the lifts there. We are ripping off all the old lifts which are about 30 years old, throwing them away and putting new computerised motors in them. And all these are paid for from the sinking fund. We have checked with HDB and we are allowed to use the sinking fund to replace the lifts, and I believe the Minister also said that earlier. When we talk of upgrading, it is a general term, but what we are actually doing is that we are replacing all the lifts there, and we do have enough funds for them. As I said, the total cost is just over $2 million. As the Minister has mentioned, we have got $8 million. I think we do have enough money. The point is that we have replaced the lifts in its present situation ---

      Mr Speaker: Mr Chiam, you are making a speech. What is your question?

      Mr Chiam See Tong: I still want to know the reasons why we are not allowed to make the lift to stop at every floor, especially the point block flats. No reasons are given. They said, we cannot. Why? We have got enough money.

      Mr Cedric Foo Chee Keng: Sir, Mr Chiam maintains that the Potong Pasir Town Council has enough money. It is granted that they have enough money to do the normal cyclical works which may even include replacement of the lifts. But what he is suggesting now is to allow the lift to stop at every floor. What that means is that you will have to do major structural works, creating lift landings where there are none today, knocking off part of the walls to create the lift landing. And for the six segmented blocks that Mr Chiam has in Toa Payoh Lorong 8, of which I have visited, he will need to create extra lift shafts on top of just creating the access to every floor. And our estimation - and we have much experience in doing lift upgrading works - for a single segmented block is that the lift shafts would cost $1.8 million or so. And upgrading of the lift landing to serve every floor is about $400,000. So the total cost is $2.2 million. So that is $24,000 per unit, considering the number of benefiting units there. So as I have just calculated, if he wants to use S&CC for this purpose, then he will need to collect 120 years worth of S&CC funds from his residents just to do this major lift upgrading work, which is clearly inappropriate because the town council would still need to commit the sinking fund for all other kinds of works that it needs to do in its cyclical repairs.

      Mr Speaker: Mr Chiam, is it the same question? Otherwise, we can go on to the next question.

      Mr Chiam See Tong: We need some explanation.

      Mr Speaker: You are not specific. What is your question?

      Mr Chiam See Tong: It is still the same question.

      Mr Speaker: If it is the same question, the same answer will be given.

      Mr Chiam See Tong: The point is that now the Minister mentions the segmented blocks. What we wrote to HDB was only for the point blocks for the lifts to stop at every floor. And at the moment, our contract price with the contractors is that the lifts are put in place with the machine to stop at every floor. So when permission is given, what we need to do is just to knock a hole in the wall, make a door for the lift to stop. It is easily adjusted. So the cost would not be as great as what the Minister says. I cannot give him offhand how much the contractors will charge us for knocking down the walls at every floor. But that is the situation and we do have enough money. So the money is not the question. But we still do not know the reasons why permission is not given.

      Mr Cedric Foo Chee Keng: Sir, even for point blocks, HDB's experience, after conducting over 600 blocks of LUP, shows that it costs something like $600,000. Therefore, for the benefiting units there, it would cost about $8,000 per benefiting unit. So let me repeat again. If it is $8,000, it would take 40 years to collect S&CC charges. Moreover, if the Member proceeds to do so just for the six point blocks, even if it costs $600,000 per block and multiply it by 6, that is $3.6 million. That would be almost half the $8 million that the Member would have. The Member would have to justify to the rest of the residents why half of the sinking funds is committed to benefit only six blocks out of the 61 blocks that he has at Potong Pasir.

      Mr Chiam See Tong rose ---

      Mr Speaker: Mr Chiam, I think you are looking at it from a different perspective. I doubt we can resolve this. You will be getting the same answer anyway.

      Mr Chiam See Tong: I am asking a straightforward question. Permission is not given to Potong Pasir for the lifts to stop at every floor. Is it because it is an Opposition ward?

      Mr Speaker: I suggest we go to the next Question. Mdm Ho Geok Choo.

  • The Barracuda's Avatar
    261 posts since Sep '04
    • Sir, the Member's second question is whether or not Potong Pasir Town Council will get the Government's Lift Upgrading Programme. To-date, the Government has done about 600 blocks of LUP and there are about 3,000 eligible blocks remaining. So we have completed roughly 17%. Lift upgrading is selected based on several criteria, ie, the block configuration, the needs of the residents, the geographical spread, and also the degree of support from the residents. We need to bear in mind that it is the whole range of Government policies and programmes that bring about budget surpluses that allow us to do such improvement programmes. Hence, all things being equal, residents who support and vote for the Government policies would be given higher priority in upgrading.

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      I feel that priority of lift upgrading should be done based on a need basis eg age of the flats or lifts or the number of elderly in the block who may benefit from such an upgrade.

      This programme should not be politicized. Surpluses came about through the hardwork of Singaporeans, not just the government. It should be distributed fairly.

  • sarek_home's Avatar
    103 posts since Oct '04

    • It is not good that our MPs are not willing to look at issues from a different perspective? How can we expect them to think out of the box? How can we expect them to consider our views from different perspectives

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      Mr Speaker: Mr Chiam, I think you are looking at it from a different perspective. I doubt we can resolve this. You will be getting the same answer anyway.
      ========

      Originally posted by The Barracuda:
      We need to bear in mind that it is the whole range of Government policies and programmes that bring about budget surpluses that allow us to do such improvement programmes. Hence, all things being equal, residents who support and vote for the Government policies would be given higher priority in upgrading.

      -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      I feel that priority of lift upgrading should be done based on a need basis eg age of the flats or lifts or the number of elderly in the block who may benefit from such an upgrade.

      This programme should not be politicized. Surpluses came about through the hardwork of Singaporeans, not just the government. It should be distributed fairly.

      Good point.

      It is a mistake for the MP to equate voting for alternative parties as less supporting government policies. It is time to change the outdated mindset.

      Supporting government policies and supporting alternative parties are two different issues. Supporting alternative parties provide a more diversive mix of MPs to view / debate issues and national policies from more diverse prospectives. It is no different from government wants to get different views from NMPs and feedbacks from people.

      [/quote]

  • LazerLordz's Avatar
    35,169 posts since Apr '03
    • There must be a clear distinction made between party and state.Our Civil Service has to be independant of political affiliations and do their professional duties.Stiill, when you have the majority of the elite in the Adminstrative Service who have gotten there through the policies of the ruling party, it’s hard for them to see life beyond their white-tinted lenses and look at things more objectively.

  • shade343's Avatar
    13,820 posts since Jun '04
  • Manager433's Avatar
    10,553 posts since Nov '03
  • AxelaSG's Avatar
    14 posts since Nov '04
    • 1)What are the life span of the existing old lifts,?

      2)What will be done if there is no LUP and the life span is due?

      3)What is the actual cost of just upgrading the existing lift?

      4)What is the cost of putting additional features like every floor with lift landding, bigger lift....etc?

      Edited by AxelaSG 18 Nov `04, 5:51PM
  • BillyBong's Avatar
    4,467 posts since Dec '00
    • This is a classic example of a brazenly dismissive answer by a PAP MP.

      One simple question is flooded by a barrage of figures and economic explanations.

      The logic is 2-fold:

      1. To 'impress' listeners with the 'facts and figures' and to show people that the PAP have got their 'numbers in order'.

      2. Since they cannot respond in a simplistic and straightforward manner (likely becoz they dun have one), they have chosen to divert attention away from the direct answer to one that is not only superfluous but also bombastic and lacking in immediate relevance.

      In the end, there is no real answer to the Mr Chiam's unambigious query.

      Kudos to Mr chiam for trying, though it was always gonna be a lost cause. Hopefully, this example is not lost on the majority of listeners.

      Edited by BillyBong 18 Nov `04, 8:38PM
  • The Barracuda's Avatar
    261 posts since Sep '04
    • Lift-upgrade: Let Chiam try

      I REFER to media reports about Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong's request to upgrade lifts being rejected in Parliament.

      If constituencies such as Pandan Gardens can vote to accept or reject lift upgrading, why not let the residents of Potong Pasir vote, too?

      If Mr Chiam says that he has sufficient funds to do it, but Minister of State for National Development Cedric Foo says he does not, why not let Mr Chiam try?

      If Mr Chiam fails, then he will have to account to his constituents.

      The key difference between Potong Pasir's lift-upgrading and that for other estates is that residents in Potong Pasir do not have to pay for it.

      Mr Foo said that Mr Chiam would have to justify to the rest of the residents why the sinking fund is committed to benefit only six blocks out of the 61 blocks that he has at Potong Pasir.

      Again, why not let all the residents of Potong Pasir vote to decide. If the residents reject Mr Chiam, isn't this democracy at work?

      Let all residents vote for some blocks to get free upgrading of lifts, or let only lift-upgrading residents vote to pay by a majority decision of 75 per cent.

      Recently, service and conservancy charges were raised for all estates except Potong Pasir and Hougang.

      In this connection, an important principle is at issue here - whether charges need to keep going up to grow town council surpluses in order to upgrade lifts.

      Mr Chiam should not be so casually dismissed in Parliament. Many Singaporeans would like to know why Mr Chiam says he can upgrade lifts for just over $2 million as against Mr Foo's contention that, from the HDB's experience, it would cost $12 million.

      The HDB's experience should not be a hindrance to Potong Pasir's trying out its "much cheaper" way of upgrading lifts. - Leong Sze Hian

  • sbst275's Avatar
    113,395 posts since Jun '04
    • But refer to today's ST...

      CST has said that he would still not be able to provide all new lifts to all Lor 8 residents

  • The Barracuda's Avatar
    261 posts since Sep '04
    • Lift upgrade: Town councils cheer change

      After 3-year wait, Potong Pasir finally able to go ahead with expected change in law

      RETIREE Mok Fook Kee, 68, who lives in Block 215, Toa Payoh Lorong 8, will not worry for much longer about climbing stairs.

      'I may be healthy and fit enough to walk down to take the lift now, but I know I will need it when I'm older,' he said, referring to the lift stopping on his floor.

      His flat is one of the six 30-year-old point blocks in Toa Payoh Lorong 8 which will soon have lifts stopping at every floor.

      Opposition Member of Parliament Chiam See Tong said he can now go ahead with his plan, and will use around $800,000 from his $10 million sinking fund to do so. His residents do not need to pay a cent.

      'I've been writing in vain to the HDB for over three years, asking it to carry out the lift upgrading programme (LUP) in Lorong 8 because it is the oldest estate we have,' he said.

      However, these six blocks may turn out to be the only ones with lifts stopping on every floor unless residents are willing to chip in.

      This is because other blocks in the Potong Pasir constituency are segmented blocks or ones without common corridors on every floor, said Mr Chiam. 'We would have to build additional lift shafts, for which it will be fairly costly and we may not have enough funds.'

      On Wednesday, the Government said its LUP will be hastened so that all Housing Board residents will get lifts which stop at all floors in 10 years, earlier than the projected 10- to 15-year time frame.

      Also, the law will be changed so that town councils can use part of their sinking funds for lift upgrading. This gives town councils the flexibility to start upgrading lifts on their own so it can be done faster in older flats, said Dr Teo Ho Pin, an MP for Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC.

      Town councils are required by the Town Councils Act to put 30 to 35 per cent of their funds into a sinking fund which is meant for major cyclical works such as repainting, re-roofing, replacing lifts, changing lift ropes and so on.

      It does not, however, cover upgrading for lift access on every floor, which would include such works as adding new lifts, shafts and landings.

      Mr Chiam said: 'If you have a lot of old flats and feel upgrading their lifts is an urgent need, now you can do so with your sinking fund.'

      That means the town councils won't need to wait for the LUP.

      Since the LUP - which is 75 to 90 per cent subsidised by the Government - started in 2001, over 600 high-rise blocks have been picked for it but not all have wanted it.

      Mr Chew Heng Ching, who is the coordinating chairman for the 14 town councils run by the People's Action Party (PAP), cheered the change.

      'A lift on every floor is a very popular request and it's necessary because of the ageing population,' said Mr Chew, who is also an MP for East Coast GRC. The average lift upgrading cost for a three-room flat in a standard HDB block is $8 to $10 a month on a 10-year instalment or around $700 upfront, he said.

      According to Mr Chew, the PAP town councils are now sitting on sinking funds of about $1.5 billion, meaning each council has about $100 million.

      He said the town councils will now wait for the Government to give a more detailed announcement on the changes and the levels of subsidies provided - which is likely to come in the next few months - before deciding how to go ahead. -- JOYCE TEO, JERMYN CHOW & DARYL LOO

  • lwflee's Avatar
    2,203 posts since Feb '04
    • The short version:

      ------------

      Qn: Why no permission to upgrade lifts?

      Ans: Coz you haven't got enough money.

      Qn: I think we do.

      Ans: No you don't.

      Qn: Errm....I do too!

      Ans: Nope, trust me. You Don't.

      Speaker: Sit down and Stop Arguing.

      -----------------

      Why doesn't the HDB just give persmission , subject to certain conditions?

      Also, i am offended by the notion that Lift upgrading depends of support for the governments policy.

      Silly Cedric says "Hence, all things being equal, residents who support and vote for the Government policies would be given higher priority in upgrading. "

      Woohoo. I hope it bites him in the next election.

      Edited by lwflee 22 Jan `05, 9:38PM
  • Manager433's Avatar
    10,553 posts since Nov '03
  • The Barracuda's Avatar
    261 posts since Sep '04
    • Originally posted by sbst275:
      But refer to today's ST...

      CST has said that he would still not be able to provide all new lifts to all Lor 8 residents

      At least he could do so for the point blocks. Cedric Foo is wrong when he say Potong Pasir does not have the money to do so.

  • sbst275's Avatar
    113,395 posts since Jun '04
    • Originally posted by The Barracuda:
      At least he could do so for the point blocks. Cedric Foo is wrong when he say Potong Pasir does not have the money to do so.

      See the prob now... He then said that he has the money to do all....

    • Originally posted by Manager433:
      LOng Live Potong Pasir!

      Nope.. Unless they inprove the facilities are ground level... Look at Lor 8, the tiles have cracked at the 'mini town park near the market'

  • kops21's Avatar
    10,430 posts since Sep '04
  • Manager433's Avatar
    10,553 posts since Nov '03
  • The Barracuda's Avatar
    261 posts since Sep '04
    • Originally posted by sbst275:

      See the prob now... He then said that he has the money to do all....

      Opposition Member of Parliament Chiam See Tong said he can now go ahead with his plan, and will use around $800,000 from his $10 million sinking fund to do so. His residents do not need to pay a cent.

      'I've been writing in vain to the HDB for over three years, asking it to carry out the lift upgrading programme (LUP) in Lorong 8 because it is the oldest estate we have,' he said.

      However, these six blocks may turn out to be the only ones with lifts stopping on every floor unless residents are willing to chip in.

      This is because other blocks in the Potong Pasir constituency are segmented blocks or ones without common corridors on every floor, said Mr Chiam. 'We would have to build additional lift shafts, for which it will be fairly costly and we may not have enough funds.'

  • sbst275's Avatar
    113,395 posts since Jun '04
    • Originally posted by Manager433:
      Bo Dong Pa Xi Wan Swai!

      No... Facilities are oftenly damaged

    • Originally posted by The Barracuda:


      Opposition Member of Parliament Chiam See Tong said he can now go ahead with his plan, and will use around $800,000 from his $10 million sinking fund to do so. His residents do not need to pay a cent.

      'I've been writing in vain to the HDB for over three years, asking it to carry out the lift upgrading programme (LUP) in Lorong 8 because it is the oldest estate we have,' he said.

      [b]However, these six blocks may turn out to be the only ones with lifts stopping on every floor unless residents are willing to chip in.

      This is because other blocks in the Potong Pasir constituency are segmented blocks or ones without common corridors on every floor, said Mr Chiam. 'We would have to build additional lift shafts, for which it will be fairly costly and we may not have enough funds.'

      [/b]

      I didn't hear him saying that earlier....

  • Manager433's Avatar
    10,553 posts since Nov '03
    • Originally posted by sbst275:
      No... Facilities are oftenly damaged

      This can happen to any PAP own estates. From what I have seen and having lived in PP for almost 21yrs, I know who are the one who do it.

  • sbst275's Avatar
    113,395 posts since Jun '04
    • Originally posted by Manager433:
      This can happen to any PAP own estates. From what I have seen and having lived in PP for almost 21yrs, I know who are the one who do it.

      But what abt the tiles at the carpark (Beside the famous curry fish head stall)? That one is worst....

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